Just two days before the Super Bowl, FanDuel and DraftKings suffered a major blow today as Citigroup announced that they would no longer process financial transactions for the fantasy sports sites in the Empire State. This action by one of the largest banks in the nation comes as the sites are engaged in a legal battle with the New York Attorney General, who wants to shut them down for illegal gambling.
“We have taken steps to block transactions at DraftKings and FanDuel by New York residents pending a final decision by the courts,” said Citigroup spokesperson Jennifer Bombardier on Friday. Today’s action is the second payment processor to refute the fantasy sites as Vantiv Entertainment Solutions said late last month that they were walking away from FanDuel and DraftKings due to the legal uncertainty. Citigroup’s action will have a much greater affect on the 113,000 active players that DraftKings alone is estimated to have in New York. The company made over $100 million in just entry fees in the state last year.
Back on November 10, NY AG Eric Schneiderman sent cease and desist letters to the CEOs of FanDuel and DraftKings after determining that they were breaking the laws of the state. Having already been booted out Nevada and other states who came to similar conclusions, the bet taking and winnings paying out sites responded to Schneiderman’s actios that they are not actually engaged in gambling. FanDuel and DraftKings insist that they offer games of skill to their players.
Since then the two sides have been back and forth in the courts. On December 11, an injunction to shut the sites down in the New York was granted but swiftly stayed by the Appeals Court. With the matter still before the courts, right now FanDuel and DraftKings are allowed to function and accept new players and financial participation in NY State – though how viable that will continue to be with Citigroup’s decision looks to be up in the air.
FanDuel did not responded to requests for comment on Citigroup’s action. DraftKings said they had no comment.